First drawing of a steam hammer by Janes Nasmyth, 24 November 1839.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
James Nasmyth (1808-1890) was an engineer and inventor who is best known for his steam hammer which he patented in 1842. This took the human effort out of the proces of forging wrought iron and steel to form engine and machine parts. Before founding his own toolmaking busines Nasmyth had worked in the London machine-shop of Henry Maudslay (1835-1918), perhaps the greatest influence on the improvement of mechanical practice in the early 19th century.